(Courtesy of Save the Wild U.P.)
Jeffery Loman, a Keweenaw Bay Indian Community member and Save the Wild U.P., a grassroots environmental group based in Marquette, filed a 60-day Notice to Sue the Environmental Protection Agency for violations of the Clean Water Act at the Eagle Mine near Big Bay Monday.
According to Loman, a former federal regulator with the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management in Alaska, the EPA failed to require a National Pollution Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permit for treated mine water discharges at Rio Tintoâ??s Eagle Mine. In 2010 Rio Tinto told the EPA that the discharges from the revised treated water filtration system were not below the surface of the ground. The State of Michigan issued a groundwater permit while acknowledging that these discharges would actually flow into the East Branch of the Salmon Trout River.
Both Loman and Alexandra Thebert, executive director of Save the Wild U.P. agreed that â??the decision to file the notice to sue was done after great circumspection and careful review of what is occurring at the Eagle Mine.â??
â??We seek to correct what is nothing short of a regulatory fiasco at the Eagle Mine. This is just the first step in a multifaceted plan to do that in full measure â?? we are also calling for a federal investigation of the relationship between State of Michigan regulators and the mining industry,â?? said Thebert.
â??In order to protect our communities and environment, we must ensure that regulations are followed,â?? said Margaret Comfort, Save the Wild U.P. president. â??Rio Tinto â?? and other mining companies â?? cannot operate outside the law.â??
The 60-Day Notice to Sue was sent by certified mail Monday, June 24 at 2:00 p.m. EST. The notice went to the Acting Administrator of the EPA in Washington D.C., the EPA Region 5 Administrator in Chicago, the U.S. Attorney General, the Governor of Michigan, and Rio Tintoâ??s Eagle Mine President Adam Burley.